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5 greatest comebacks in international cricket

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Some are born with it. Some achieve it with dedication and hard work. For others, it is a way of life – the trait of never giving up despite the chips being down.

Scripting a comeback from the dark abyss of despair is difficult. It requires nerves of steel and an icy determination to battle through the obstacles. Greatness has but a singular measure : winning, and all it takes is that one single moment of brilliance to engineer a turnaround.

Sunil Gavaskar’s epic century in the Queen’s Park Test against the mighty West Indies in 1976 laid the foundation for one of India’s most successful run chases in the history of the game. India’s win in the final of the World T20 against Pakistan in 2007 was also a case of a brilliant recovery after jittery moments.

During a game with Western Australia, the Queensland side bowled out their opponents for just 77. Team captain Rodney Marsh told his players to make the target look as imposing as possible even if defeat was certain, but the fiery Dennis Lillee exhorted his teammates to go out and win the game, and led an inspired WA side to shoot out the astonished Queenslanders (who had Viv Richards and Greg Chappell in their ranks) for a mere 62. That’s the kind of spirit needed to eke out a win if you want it at any cost, without once resorting to illegal or unethical tactics.

Here is a list of the five greatest comebacks in international cricket:

5. Kapil’s heroics (India v/s Zimbabwe, Tunbridge Wells, June 1983)

 Kapil Dev during his innings of 175 not out

Kapil Dev during his innings of 175 not out

To this day, modern cricket fanatics lament the fact that no known recordings of this thrilling encounter exist; those who witnessed it 30 years ago can only recall bits and pieces of a game that was instrumental in a young side brave enough to overcome even the mighty West Indies, who were favourites to win a third straight World Cup title.

But the indications of a turnaround were, to the naked eye, not visible initially. Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran had made inroads into the Indian line-up, with the likes of Gavaskar and Srikkanth falling like ninepins. With Yashpal Sharma, Sandeep Patil and Mohinder Amarnath also departing early, it looked like curtains for the team at 17/5.

Then out walked the Haryana Hurricane – skipper Kapil Dev – and proceeded to lash the Nevill Ground like a typhoon unleashed. He smote the bowling to all corners of the park; even the wily John Traicos and the charismatic Duncan Fletcher had no answer to Kapil’s ferocious onslaught. He powered his way to a splendid 175, adding 126 in the undefeated ninth-wicket stand with wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani.

The thrust thus provided, Roger Binny, Madan Lal and Amarnath quickly ran through the opposition, and completed a grand win by 31 runs  despite Curran’s solid rearguard action. The momentum gained from this win had, in all likelihood, piloted India to the glittering trophy that year, ending the Calypso dominance.

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